+JMJ+ Welcome! I’m writing a work of historical fiction involving Biblical characters, and posting the rough rough rough ROUGH draft as I write it. Really. I mean, really. I’ve been writing each part beginning on the same afternoon or evening that I post it. I kicked out my Inner Editor and embraced the Principle of Exuberant Imperfection to get this thing written, something I learned from NaNoWriMo. I will pick up the Story of Salvation series at some point, but this story has gotten hold of me and hasn’t turned loose yet, so I’m gonna let it go and see where it takes me. Come along with me!
A Journey – Part 12
(Time, still Fourth Day, Wednesday before Passover, late afternoon)
My most trusted servant is still away, seeing now to last minute details in the rabbi’s travel arrangements. I have different routes laid out for him, depending on where my spies–and some of Nico’s and Joseph’s–tell me the Council’s spies are. Oh, yes, everybody spies on everyone else. I’m surprised we’ve gotten away with it for so long, may the Lord continue to smile upon us.
I’m awaiting word that another of my spies has spotted the rabbi’s mother somewhere. Ah, here’s someone now with a message. She’s with Rachel. With Rachel?! She’s my sister and I love her but she is going to be the death of me yet. And where is Rachel? At the house in Bethany. The message says that the rabbi likes to spend time with some of his disciples there when he comes to Jerusalem. And who are these disciples? Martha. Mary. Lazarus.
I’ve heard the rumors but these must be lies. No one can raise anyone from the dead, not even our rabbi with his searching, unsearchable eyes and parables that seem to mean everything when you hear them and nothing when you try to fathom them. He drives me mad and now this, this conjuror’s trick, this attempt to pass himself off as a god–a god, I say! What sort of gentile gibberish, what kind of Greek garbage is he involved in? Is he starting his own Gentile religion? He knows we can have no other before Him. One is our Lord and there is no other. He’ll get himself stoned for blasphemy yet. And he’ll take his mother with him. And my sister!
This has gone on long enough. I don’t have time to wait for Nico to go with me. I must go to the rabbi’s mother now and talk to her. She is a woman with good sense who surely does not want to see her son come to harm. I will appeal to her, to the mother’s love that she bears for him, and we can get him out of here before he does anything else to bring judgment down on his head. Though why I should bother myself so much I do not know. He drives me mad. But when I see her, the way she looks at him–I would have given anything for my mother or my father to ever have looked at me that way. For anyone to. For the sake of her love for him, to keep those eyes from having to watch what the Sanhedrin would do to him, I will do what I can to help him. To help her. To help them.
I was on my way to Bethany when I ran into Rachel and the rabbi’s mother on the road to Jerusalem, going to see about preparing for the rabbi to celebrate Passover with his disciples. It would seem that the money I gave to her for travel arrangements has been diverted from its original and authorized destination and instead has been redirected to helping him stay here, doing what I do not know, instead of escaping, which is what he should be doing.
This is maddening! Good thing I didn’t depend solely on her to arrange it all. Did she complete any of the plans I left in her charge? Has the whole world lost its mind? He’s not a sorcerer, he’s not a witch, and he’s not a god, he’s a man and if he and his followers are determined to get themselves thrown in jail or worse, probably much worse, then I can’t help that. But my sister–there is where I draw the line. She is going to singlehandedly drag our reputation into the mud.
I was getting angrier and angrier but then the rabbi’s mother put her hand on my shoulder, and spoke to me. The moment was one of beauty and grace. She said, “Let’s stop and rest. You are worried and weary. Come sit with me a while.”
She had wine brought and bread, and dates and figs. We sat under the shade of a tree by the side of the road and she spoke and as she did I felt my anger dropping away. Not completely, but largely.
I told her that I had been making arrangements to get her son–to get all of them, including her–out of the city before the Passover. No traveling on the Sabbath and things seem to be heating up with the Council and–
She interrupted me. “My son knows what he is doing and that is enough for me.”
“Yes, I understand that.”
“Do you? Do you understand that? I wonder.”
“What do you mean? Of course I understand that you love him and you want to support him.”
“So you do not understand after all.”
“How can you say that? And what does it matter? What matters is getting you all to safety. I don’t think you understand how many enemies he has made or how powerful they are.
She smiled at me then. “You really do not understand, Jonah. But you will.”
“How do you know–now cut that out! He does the same thing to me and I hate it!”
“Has anyone spoken to you of the prophecies?”
“Please, I’ve come to you for serious discussion.”
“And you, a Pharisee, think prophecy is not a subject for serious discussion? I must not understand the Pharisees.”
“Of course prophecy is a wonderful subject, but not when powerful people are plotting against you.”
“I should think that that would be when prophecy was most important, especially when those plotting against you are looking to those same prophecies to use against you, if only to say, ‘Look who he thinks he is.'”
“He has known from the beginning about the Pharisees–present company excepted–and their plot against him, and that some of the others have joined them.”
“Then why are you still here? If it’s money, I have taken care of that, and so have Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea.”
“Money does not take care of everything, Jonah.”
Just then as we sat in the shade and ate and drank, a man and woman with an elderly couple and several children came walking down the road. They wore rags and were dirty. I’m sure I heard more than one belly make gurgling rumbling noises, they were so loud I could hear them clearly from where we sat.
I had already turned to continue speaking to his mother when she rose from where she was sitting, taking the better part of our water, and ran to greet the strangers to invite to come sit with us and refresh themselves. After some pleading, they accepted her invitation. This was probably exactly what they had hoped for, that someone would take pity on them on the road and offer them food and drink.
For a moment I was horrified. All I could think of was how she just did not understand what was important and a priority, and what was not.
Returning with her guests, she gave instructions to her attendants to bring more food and wine, and spoke to me quietly. “Jonah, I know what is important and what is important is to love our neighbors as ourselves and, where possible, to take their burdens upon our own shoulders and share them. How could we sit here and enjoy ourselves knowing that this family was passing by, with hunger in their bellies, and thirst in their throats, and tears in their eyes?”
“I didn’t see any tears.”
“I did. I could feel their sorrow as if it were my own, and so I could not help but rise to comfort them.”
“That’s where you and I are very different, then.”
“One way, yes, among many.”
“You’re not going to talk him into leaving, are you?”
“I do whatever he tells me.”
I threw my head back and raised my arms in prayer and supplication. “What am I to do, Lord? You see how impossible these two are, don’t You? How can I make them see?”
She watched me with the slightest of smiles and her eyes were as unsearchable as his.
And just as full of love.
End of Part 12
Thanks for visiting and reading and hanging in there with me this far. Until next time, whoever and wherever you are, please stay safe and well, virtuous and holy, and act with compassion, and become who you were meant to be: a SAINT! May the Lord bless and keep you and yours, and may His peace be always with you. +JMJ+
Image in the cover: From the east, Nazareth, Holy Land, from Wikimedia Commons, public domain.
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